24-Carat Black

The shuttering of Stax Records left hundreds of musicians locked out of 926 East McLemore—and the Chicago chapter of 24-Carat Black on the hook for months spent in the studio. Their debut album, a commercial and financial disaster, was par for the course during Al Bell’s reign as the Memphis label’s head. Embraced in the early 90s by Britain’s rare groove scene, Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth has since been known as 24-Carat Black’s first and final chapter, barely a footnote in the well documented history of Stax. Dale Warren’s dark urban concept album, released in the fall of 1973 on the Enterprise imprint, challenged even its target audience to embrace it. But 24-Carat Black simply pushed past their concept’s conclusion, piling up dozens of reels for an intimate follow-up album that no one in the world wanted to hear. With their debut LP downgraded to cutout status in 1975, 24-Carat Black found themselves watching their moment recede in the rearview. For 35 years, the sketches for 24-Carat Black’s sophomore release hibernated in keyboardist and session engineer Bruce Thompson’s basement below the south side of Chicago. Wildly divergent in tone, scope, and mission, Gone: The Promises of Yesterday—the second 24-Carat Black album—was tethered to the first by a single, crucial element: its creator.

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